First Americans

Early American Migration

In the News ...

Alaskan infant's DNA tells story of 'first Americans'   BBC - January 4, 2018
The 11,500-year-old remains of an infant girl from Alaska have shed new light on the peopling of the Americas. Genetic analysis of the child, allied to other data, indicates she belonged to a previously unknown, ancient group. Scientists say what they have learnt from her DNA strongly supports the idea that a single wave of migrants moved into the continent from Siberia just over 20,000 years ago. Lower sea-levels back then would have created dry land in the Bering Strait. It would have submerged again only as northern ice sheets melted

The genes that rewrite American pre-history: Ancient DNA reveals how the first humans arrived on the continent in ONE wave more than 25,000 years ago and then split into three ancestral Native American groups   Daily Mail - January 3, 2018
The DNA of a six-week-old Native American infant who died 11,500 years ago has rewritten the history of the Americas. The young girl's genes reveal the first humans arrived on the continent 25,000 years ago - much earlier than some studies claim - before splitting into three Native American groups. This is the first time that direct genetic traces of the earliest Native Americans have been identified. The girl belonged to a previously unknown population of ancient people in North America known as the 'Ancient Beringians.' This small Native American group resided in Alaska and died out around 6,000 years ago, researchers claim.

Human settlement in the Americas may have occurred in the late Pleistocene   PhysOrg - August 30, 2017
Analysis of a skeleton found in the Chan Hol cave near Tulum, Mexico suggests human settlement in the Americas occurred in the late Pleistocene era. Scientists have long debated about when humans first settled in the Americas. While osteological evidence of early settlers is fragmentary, researchers have previously discovered and dated well-preserved prehistoric human skeletons in caves in Tulum in Southern Mexico.

Humans were in America 115,000 years earlier than thought: Dramatic discovery that mastodon bones were butchered with Stone Age tools has forced scientists to stunning new conclusion   Daily Mail - April 26, 2017
A controversial find could rewrite the history of humans in North America. Archaeologists claim to have found evidence an unknown species of human was living on the continent as early as 130,000 years ago - 115,000 years earlier than previously thought. Researchers discovered the butchered remains of an enormous mastodon in San Diego, with evidence of chips and fractures made by early humans - but they admit they don't know if they were Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, or something else.

Mastodon discovery shakes up understanding of early humans in the New World   Science Daily - April 26, 2017
Broken bones and rocks yield evidence that pushes back the record of early humans in North America by more than 100,000 years

Stone Knife and Mastodon Bones Point to Earlier Arrival of First Americans   National Geographic - May 14, 2016
A sinkhole in Florida's Aucilla River is an archaeological gold mine that offers a rare glimpse of life in ancient America. A thousand years before big game hunters who used what are known as Clovis spearpoints spread across North America, earlier arrivals were living near Florida's Aucilla River alongside mastodon and other animals now long extinct. So say archaeologists who spent four years investigating an underwater sinkhole known as the Page-Ladson site.

Pre-Clovis civilization in Florida; settlement 1,500 years earlier than previously believed   Science Daily - May 13, 2016
The discovery of stone tools alongside mastodon bones in a Florida river shows that humans settled the southeastern United States as much as 1,500 years earlier than scientists previously believed, according to a new research. This site on the Aucilla River -- about 45 minutes from Tallahassee -- is now the oldest known site of human life in the southeastern United States. It dates back 14,550 years.

1st Americans Used Spear-Throwers to Hunt Large Animals   Live Science - January 28, 2015
Despite a lack of archaeological evidence, the first North Americans have often been depicted hunting with spear-throwers, which are tools that can launch deadly spear points at high speeds. But now, a new analysis of microscopic fractures on Paleo-Indian spear points provides the first empirical evidence that America's first hunters really did use these weapons to tackle mammoths and other big game. The new study has implications for scientists' understanding of the way Paleo-Indians lived, researchers say. To understand the inner workings of extinct hunter-gatherer societies, it's important to first learn how the ancient peoples got the food they ate, because their lives were closely tied to their subsistence activities. Current models of Paleo-Indian society are based on the assumption that hunters sometimes used spear-throwers, or atlatls.

Naia Reborn: See the Surprising Face of a First American   NBC - January 9, 2015
Researchers and artists have reconstructed the face of a teenage girl who lived 12,000 years ago in Mexico, and it's not the kind of face a person might typically associate with Native Americans. The remains of the girl, nicknamed Naia (after the Greek term for a water nymph), were recovered from an underwater cave on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Naia is regarded as one of the earliest known residents of the Americas - but her skull has a shape associated with African or South Pacific populations rather than the typical Siberian look. Despite that different look, researchers say Naia is genetically related to Native Americans who came to America later, from Siberia via the Beringia land bridge.

Girl's skeleton found in cave sheds light on origins of first Americans   The Guardian - May 15, 2014
DNA recovered from 12,000-year-old skeleton help to dispel claims that first Americans came from Australia, Asia or Europe.

Prehistoric Skeleton in Mexico Is Said to Link Modern Native Americans to Siberians   New York Times - May 15, 2014
Most geneticists agree that Native Americans are descended from Siberians who crossed into America 26,000 to 18,000 years ago via a land bridge over the Bering Strait. But while genetic analysis of modern Native Americans lends support to this idea, strong fossil evidence has been lacking. Now a nearly complete skeleton of a prehistoric teenage girl, newly discovered in an underwater cave in the Yucatan Peninsula, establishes a clear link between the ancient and modern peoples, scientists say.

In Photos: Human Skeleton Sheds Light on First Americans   Live Science - May 15, 2014
A near-complete human skeleton has been discovered, buried alongside saber-toothed cats, pumas and bobcats, at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, deep beneath the jungles of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. Here, divers Nava and Susan Bird transport the Hoyo Negro skull to an underwater turntable so that it can be photographed in order to create a 3D model.

Sunken body clue to American origins   BBC - May 15, 2014
The ancient remains of a teenage girl discovered deep underground in Mexico are providing additional insights on how the Americas came to be populated. Divers found the juvenile's bones by chance in a vast, flooded limestone chamber on the Yucatan Peninsula. Aged 15 or 16 at death, the girl lived at least 12,000 years ago. Researchers have told Science Magazine her DNA backs the idea that the first Americans and modern Native American Indians share a common ancestry. This theory argues that people from Siberia settled on the land bridge dubbed Beringia that linked Asia and the Americas some 20,000 years ago before sea levels rose.

Prehistoric Boy May Be Native American 'Missing Link'   Live Science - February 13, 2014
A prehistoric boy's DNA now suggests that ancient toolmakers long thought of as the first Americans may serve as a kind of "missing link" between Native Americans and the rest of the world, researchers say. The findings reveal these prehistoric toolmakers are the direct ancestors of many contemporary Native Americans, and are closely related to all Native Americans. Scientists investigated a prehistoric culture known as the Clovis, named after sites discovered near Clovis, N.M. Centuries of cold, nicknamed the "Big Freeze," helped wipe out the Clovis, as well as most of the large mammals in North America. The artifacts of the Clovis are found south of the giant ice sheets that once covered Canada, in most of North America, though not in South America.

Ancient American's genome mapped   BBC - February 13, 2014
Present-day Native Americans are descended from some of the continent's earliest settlers, a genetic study suggests. Scientists sequenced the genome of a one-year-old boy who died in what is now Montana about 12,500 years ago. Some researchers have raised questions about the origins of early Americans, with one theory even proposing a link to Ice Age Europeans. But the Nature study places the origins of these ancient people in Asia. The infant was a member of the Clovis people, a widespread, sophisticated Ice Age culture in North America. They appeared in America about 13,000 years ago and hunted mammoth, mastodon and bison. The boy's remains, uncovered at the Anzick Site in Montana in 1968, were associated with distinctive Clovis stone tools. In fact, it is the only known skeleton directly linked to artifacts from this culture. But the origins of the Clovis people, and who they are related to today, has been the subject of intense discussion.

Ancient giant sloth bones suggest humans were in Americas far earlier than thought   PhysOrg - November 20, 2013
A team of Uruguayan researchers working in Uruguay has found evidence in ancient sloth bones that suggests humans were in the area as far back as 30,000 years ago. Most scientists today believe that humans populated the Americas approximately 16,000 years ago, and did so by walking across the Bering Strait, which would have been frozen over during that time period. More recent evidence has begun to suggest that humans were living in South America far earlier than that - just last month a team of excavators in Brazil discovered cave paintings and ceramics that have been dated to 30,000 years ago and now, in this new effort, the research team has found more evidence of people living in Uruguay around the same time.

Oregon stone tools enliven 'earliest Americans' debate   BBC - July 13, 2012
Scientists studying how North America was first settled have found stone spearheads and darts in Oregon, US, that date back more than 13,000 years. The hunting implements, which are of the "Western Stemmed" tradition, are at least as old as the famous Clovis tools thought for a long time to belong to the continent's earliest inhabitants. Precise carbon dating of dried human feces discovered alongside the stone specimens tied down their antiquity.

New fossils of oldest American primate   PhysOrg - November 16, 2011
Johns Hopkins researchers have identified the first ankle and toe bone fossils from the earliest North American true primate, which they say suggests that our earliest forerunners may have dwelled or moved primarily in trees, like modern day lemurs and similar mammals.

Paleo CSI: Early Hunters Left Mastodon Murder Weapon Behind   Live Science - October 21, 2011
A new look at a very old mastodon skeleton has turned up evidence of the first known hunting weapon in North America, a tool made of bone that predates previously known hunting technology by 800 years. The sharp bit of bone, found embedded in a mastodon rib unearthed in the 1970s, has long been controversial. Archaeologists have argued about both the date assigned to the bone - around 14,000 years old - and about whether the alleged weapon was really shaped by human hands. But now, researchers say it's likely that 13,800 years ago, hunters slaughtered elephant-like mastodons using bony projectile points not much bigger around than pencils, sharpened to needle-like tips.

Old American theory is 'speared'   BBC - October 21, 2011
An ancient bone with a projectile point lodged within it appears to up-end - once and for all - a long-held idea of how the Americas were first populated. The rib, from a tusked beast known as a mastodon, has been dated precisely to 13,800 years ago. This places it before the so-called Clovis hunters, who many academics had argued were the North American continent's original inhabitants.

Stone tools 'demand new American story'   BBC - March 25, 2011
The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken. Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers. The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America's original immigrants. Details of the 15,500-year-old finds are reported in Science magazine.

Pictures: Prehistoric American Skull Found in Sea Cave? First American?   National Geographic - March 10, 2011
Divers carefully place a marker near a human skull found upside down in a large underwater cave near the Caribbean Sea on Mexico's YucatAn Peninsula in 2007. Based on the skull's location, the team believes the remains ended up there about 10,000 years ago - just before the then dry cave was inundated as sea level began rising. If confirmed, that age would make the skull one of the oldest known remains of an early American, or Paleo-Indian.

Ice Age Child Found in Prehistoric Alaskan Home   National Geographic - February 25, 2011
In what's now central Alaska, one of the first Americans—only three years old at the time - was laid to rest in a pit inside his or her house 11,500 years ago, a new excavation reveals. The ancient home site and human remains—the oldest known in subarctic North America - provide an unprecedented glimpse into the daily lives of Ice Age Americans, scientists say.

Ancient woman suggests diverse migration   PhysOrg - July 23, 2010
This undated photo taken at the France-based Atelier Daynes in Paris, released on Friday, July 23, 2010, by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, shows a scientific reconstruction of an ancient woman known as La Mujer de las Palmas, based on the skeletal remains of a female who lived between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago in Tulum, Mexico. Experts reconstructed what the woman may have looked like based on the remains found in 2002 in a sinkhole cave near the Caribbean resort of Tulum, Mexico. Anthropologist Alejandro Terrazas says the reconstruction resembles people from southeastern Asia areas like Indonesia, even though experts had long believed the first people to migrate to the Americas where from northeast Asia. A scientific reconstruction of one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas appears to support theories that the first people who came to the hemisphere migrated from a broader area than once thought, researchers say.

Footprints Show 1st Americans Came 25,000 Years Early? National Geographic - June 7, 2008
The first Americans may have arrived at least 25,000 years earlier than thought, new methods of dating ancient footprints show. The analysis centered on 325 indentations found in a quarry in present-day Mexico's Valsequillo Basin. The footprints were formed when prehistoric people walked in soft, damp volcanic ash along a lakeshore shortly after a volcanic eruption. The ash later hardened into rock, preserving the tracks. A 2005 study had dated the ash layer to 1.3 million years ago raising questions as to whether the indentations were even made by humans. But dating the ash is complicated by the fact that an eruption occurred underwater.

Fossilized feces found in Oregon's Paisley Caves may help solve the riddle of when and how humans came to the Americas. BBC - April 3, 2008
Fossiliszed faeces found in a US cave may help solve the riddle of when and how humans came to the Americas. The samples date back just over 14,000 years, before the time of the Clovis culture. Clovis people dominated North and Central America around 13,000 years ago, and whether any groups came before them has been controversial. In the journal Science, the researchers describe how their conclusion hinged on modern genetic analysis. The 14 fecal fragments were discovered in caves near a lake in the north-western US state of Oregon, among other signs of ancient human occupation.

Fossil Feces Is Earliest Evidence of N. America Humans National Geographic - April 3, 2008
It's no load of crap: Scientists have discovered the earliest evidence of humans in North America in 14,300-year-old fossilized feces. The discovery of the preserved scat fragments, known as coprolites, levels a major blow against the popular Clovis-first theory of how people first came to the Americas. After repeated radiocarbon dating and DNA analyses, the scientists concluded that the oldest of the human-produced material was deposited at least a thousand years before the so-called Clovis culture

Polynesians And Their Chickens Arrived in Americas Before Columbus National Geographic - June 4, 2007
The greatest testament we have today to the sailing abilities of the ancient Polynesians may be found in a few ancient chicken bones, a new study reveals. The bones, which scientists recently dug up from a site on the central coast of Chile, offer a startling conclusion: Polynesians beat Columbus to the Americas by probably a century or more, arriving at the latest in the early 1400s. This means Polynesians not only colonized nearly every island in the South Pacific making journeys over thousands of miles but they also made the long hop all the way to the Americas. The study may put an end to a raging debate about how chickens were introduced to the New World, the authors suggest.

First Americans Arrived Recently, Settled Pacific Coast, DNA Study Says National Geographic - February 6, 2007
A study of the oldest known sample of human DNA in the Americas suggests that humans arrived in the New World relatively recently, around 15,000 years ago. The DNA was extracted from a 10,300-year-old tooth found in a cave on Prince of Wales Island off southern Alaska in 1996.

First Americans May Have Been European Live Science - February 20, 2006
The first humans to spread across North America may have been seal hunters from France and Spain. This runs counter to the long-held belief that the first human entry into the Americas was a crossing of a land-ice bridge that spanned the Bering Strait about 13,500 years ago.

Ancient People Followed 'Kelp Highway' to America Live Science - February 20, 2006
Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp. The new finding lends strength to the "coastal migration theory," whereby early maritime populations boated from one island to another, hunting the bountiful amounts of sea creatures that live in kelp forests.

Prehistoric Graves Reveal Americas' First Baby Boom National Geographic - January 10, 2006
A new study of prehistoric cemeteries in North America is adding weight to the theory that the development of agriculture helped fuel baby booms around the world. According to the theory, populations swell when societies shift from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one based on the more sedentary routine of farming.

Footprints of 'first Americans' BBC - July 5, 2005

Human settlers made it to the Americas 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to new evidence. A team of scientists came to this controversial conclusion by dating human footprints preserved by volcanic ash in an abandoned quarry in Mexico. They say the first Americans may have arrived by sea, rather than by foot. The traditional view is that the continent's early settlers arrived around 11,000 years ago, by crossing a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska.

Did Prince Henry Sinclair discover America? - May 20, 2005
1398 ... a fleet sails from Orkney on a voyage funded by the Templars to the New World. On board are Prince Henry Sinclair, Lord of Rosslyn, and the Zeno brothers, renowned Venetian sailors. One hundred years before Christopher Columbus discovered America they reached Nova Scotia where Templar architecture and the oral history of the Mi'kmaq Indians are all that remain to inform us of this voyage. Prince Henry's death shortly after returning to Orkney meant that news of his epic journey was lost for centuries.

New Evidence Puts Man In North America 50,000 Years Ago Science Daily - November 18, 2004
Radiocarbon tests of carbonized plant remains where artifacts were unearthed last May along the Savannah River in Allendale County by University of South Carolina archaeologist Dr. Albert Goodyear indicate that the sediments containing these artifacts are at least 50,000 years old, meaning that humans inhabited North American long before the last ice age. The findings are significant because they suggest that humans inhabited North America well before the last ice age more than 20,000 years ago, a potentially explosive revelation in American archaeology. Goodyear, who has garnered international attention for his discoveries of tools that pre-date what is believed to be humans' arrival in North America, announced the test results

Seafaring clue to first Americans 8,000 years ago BBC - February 26, 2004
People in North America were voyaging by sea some 8,000 years ago, boosting a theory that some of the continent's first settlers arrived there by boat. That is the claim of archaeologists who have found evidence of ancient seafaring along the Californian coast. The traditional view holds that the first Americans were trekkers from Siberia who crossed a land bridge into Alaska during the last Ice Age.

Humans reached America at least 30,000 years ago BBC - July 22, 2003
A new genetic study deals a blow to claims that humans reached America at least 30,000 years ago - around the same time that people were colonizing Europe. The subject of when humans first arrived in America is hotly contested by academics. On one side of the argument are researchers who claim America was first populated around 13,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age. On the other are those who propose a much earlier date for colonization of the continent - possibly around 30,000-40,000 years ago.